Don’t Trust the Vendor’s Report: Why Raymond v Lewis Will Make You Think Twice

Home Conveyancing Don’t Trust the Vendor’s Report: Why Raymond v Lewis Will Make You Think Twice

Imagine this: You find your dream home. The garden is lush, the kitchen is modern, and there’s even a cosy nook where you can sip your morning coffee. It’s love at first sight. The seller hands you a building and pest report that looks solid. No need to dig deeper, right? Hold on! The Raymond v Lewis [2024] QCA 43 case might make you think otherwise.

The Key Takeaways:

  1. Builders Aren’t Psychic: They don’t automatically owe a duty of care to future buyers unless the buyer is “vulnerable.” This legal jargon means you could be left high and dry if you haven’t covered your bases.
  2. Peek Behind the Curtain: If potential defects are staring you in the face (or could be uncovered with a thorough inspection), it’s hard to claim vulnerability later.
  3. Get Your Own Inspection: Before you pop the bubbly, hire your own inspector to give the place a thorough once-over. Think of it as paying a little now to avoid paying a lot later.

The Tale of Ms. Lewis

Scene 1: In 2017, Ms. Lewis sets her sights on a snazzy $1.6 million house, built between 2005-2006 by Tycoon Developments Pty Ltd, where Mr. Raymond was the director and builder. The seller, Mr. King, provides a building and pest report that says, “No biggie, just a few minor rust spots.”

Scene 2: Ms. Lewis peeks into the subfloor hatch but can’t see much due to darkness and doesn’t go in further. She proceeds based on the vendor’s inspection report, which she assumes is accurate. However, after purchasing, a pest controller and structural engineer uncover a hidden world of subfloor horrors! Major structural issues weren’t disclosed, and fixing them means shelling out a fortune. They note that the rusting box steel columns and other minor defects are actually extensive and could affect the property’s stability.

Scene 3: The District Court initially rules that Mr. Raymond, the builder, owed Ms. Lewis a duty of care, referencing an older case, Bryan v Maloney, which established the duty of builders to subsequent purchasers. However, the Court of Appeal changes its mind, stating that Ms. Lewis could have discovered the problems if she’d just brought in her own inspector. Since the defects were discoverable, she was not considered “vulnerable,” and thus, Mr. Raymond didn’t owe her a duty of care.

The Moral of the Story

Don’t gamble on a vendor-provided report. Hire your own building and pest inspector like a savvy sleuth and uncover any secrets lurking beneath the surface before you sign anything.

Bliss Conveyancing’s Hot Tip: Double-checking with your own experts could save you from a real-life horror story and ensure that your property dreams don’t become a legal nightmare. Give us a call, and let’s help you navigate your next property purchase with confidence!

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